A Cabinet of Wonders
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
In Wonderstruck, Ben learns that museums evolved from private collections called “cabinets of wonders.” Invite students to learn about the history of museums and create their own cabinets of wonders using items from nature.
What it teaches:
Categorization, ecosystems, observation, research
What you need:
Empty shoeboxes, magnifying glasses, field guides, student printable (“A Cabinet of Wonders”)
What to do:
- Talk about the connection between museums and science. How do scientists help museums? How is the process of collecting things scientific? How can gathering objects in “A Cabinet of Wonders” help us to understand the world?
- Next, invite students to create their own cabinets of wonders. Explain that their challenge is to collect at least 10 similar items from the natural world, such as rocks, leaves, berries, or nuts. Distribute the student printable and read through the questions together before students begin collecting. You might spend one class period collecting or give students a week or two to gather items on their own.
- Encourage students to find the names of the items they collected in a field guide or online. Then have them artfully arrange the items they collected in a shoebox for display.
- Once students have completed their collections and the printable, have them share their cabinets with the class. Discuss how the collections together represent a slice of their local ecosystem. How did students’ understanding of their environment change as a result of the project? Put the cabinets on display for other classes and families to enjoy.